Weekend Open Forum: How did you learn to type?

By on March 30, 2012, 7:30 PM

I grew up in a generation where computers and the Internet were just starting to become a “big thing.” As such, there were multiple computer-related courses as electives in middle and high school. As a tech geek at heart, I signed up for the majority of courses offered although there were only one or two typing classes that I recall.

In these classes, the teacher would place a cardboard box over the keyboard to help you learn the home row keys, the most basic of typing skills. Much more fun, however, were the typing games we were allowed to play. Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing still stands out as the single game that helped increase my typing speed and accuracy while competing against fellow classmates for the highest score.

While these classes certainly helped to put me on the right track, I feel that I got the most practice from wasting the nights away in chat rooms. I’d stay up all hours of the night chatting on my Web TV (this was before I had a PC) and loved every minute of it. I specifically remember using the wireless keyboard while laying in bed with the lights off so I wouldn’t be able to see the keys. As you can imagine, there was plenty of trial and error there.

With this weekend open forum we want to hear about how you learned to type. Did you teach yourself, learn in grade school or college or perhaps you still haven’t mastered the task?

User Comments: 72

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Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I started back in school when i was 16 using just one very slow finger. Over time i started getting faster using my one finger until i could manage two fingers.

Anyways, after around 8 years of self learning (I never used any programs), I can now type with all fingers pretty fast. Although i can't touch-type yet...just can't seem to break that barrier.

mccartercar said:

Programming on an Apple IIc when I was 10 in 1993.

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

When I got into high school they were just moving away from teaching Typewriting to Computing, but funnily enough they "taught us" how to use Word the entire first year. This is to say, no I did not learn how to type in school, heh, unless "Wordart" counts.

Today I'm a fairly fast typer, not sure if I do it by the book but practice is everything.

Guest said:

I've worked with a computer long before I formally learned to type, and some experience with an old DOS typing program back in elementary school. In junior high, I more formally learned to type on an Apple typing program, made practical by learning to type up documents correctly with tab stops and sections and whatnot.

I then followed that up the next year with a dedicated typing class.

Using an old-school typewriter.

I will say, that the feedback on the typewriter was the best feeling ever.

Afterwards, I always kept my skills up by pretty much typing up and printing out any type of homework assignment or report I could, in a time when 56k modems was "bleeding edge." It kept me in a good habit of using proper capitalization, punctuation, and grammar when I eventually got into chatrooms and forums.

Guest said:

playing online games really enhanced my typing skills.

Guest said:

I had to learn morse code in the Navy, using a manual typewriter. In the front of the classroom there was a large poster of the keyboard layout and the key zones assigned to each finger.

I decided that if I had to do this, I'd learn to do it the right way - not the two-fingered Christopher Columbus method (i.e. Look for it and then land on it).

Guest said:

In sixth grade I had a typing class in my middle school. I think I took it just as a filler class, but it ended up being one of the most useful skills I'd ever learned in school, period.

I type somewhere in the 90 wpm range on average, but faster if I try.

sondang said:

Using the computer everyday from year 7 gave me touch type and an average of 100wpm. I'm in year 11 now, and our generations messed up

Guest said:

Similar to your story, but ... In basic typing class in 7th grade (1966). Had taught myself to type (4-finger stomp), got 85 wpm on the first test. The teacher told me I had my A, just don't bother with class. I wish he had forced me to re-learn it the right way when I was 13!

SeiveD said:

I just started typing when I started using the computer around the age of maybe 8? Since I used the computer all day every day for a very long time, I eventually got pretty good at typing, even with my weird-ass typing style I could manage over 100 WPM. Lately' I've transitioned more toward a touch-typing like style that I've tried to learn so that I could make better use of the rest of my fingers as I was typing.

yRaz yRaz said:

I've been in front of a keyboard since I was three. I didn't take a typing class until my first year of high school. While I knew my way around a keyboard, my speed sucked. During the last 4-5 weeks of that class no one had anything to do. I had memorized the entire first lesson and kept doing it over again trying to see how fast I could get it. My actual typing speed is 40-50wpm but my record in that typing program was 190wpm. It only had words in it that could be typed on the center row of keys.

Guest said:

AIM taught me how to type much faster. I got tired of talking to them and seeing 8 things they wrote while I was still trying to respond to the first thing.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

In 1991 I was in 7th grade and we had a typing class, I didn't learn much, but I did at least learn the correct finger positions. Then through HS I had to type up some papers for various English classes but I was still pretty slow, as in real slow.

What really made me fast was using AIM (like the guest above) once I got to college. I accumulated a lot of 'buddies' including one girl that I ended up talking to nearly daily for the next 10 years of our lives. I got faster in a couple weeks than I did from a class in 'middle school' and then all the years up until college.

mailpup mailpup said:

I learned to touch type in junior high school. That was before there was such a thing as middle school, at least in my part of the country. Our school used old heavy manual (non-electric) typewriters. I actually took two courses (I & II). I figured that it would come in handy typing papers for college later. Little did I realize at the time that PCs would become an essential tool in the workplace and touch typing would come in handy writing the numerous reports, manuals and memorandums my job would require.

aspleme said:

I've used a computer nearly my whole life, though I don't remember much before using Windows 3.0 and 3.1 (as well as Dos). But what gave me the ability to type was Mavis Beacon. Before that, I had to look at the keyboard to figure out what I was typing... not really the same as touch typing at all. Beyond that, AIM, MSN, and other chatting did improve my speed... though I never picked up the habits of shortening my words or ruining my grammar that a lot of my peers did.

I just wish Mavis Beacon gave the option to teach Dvorak. I've always wanted to learn it, but the few typing programs I can find teach it, I can't get myself to stick with.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Grade 9 keyboarding class and Mavis Beacon.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I decided that if I had to do this, I'd learn to do it the right way - not the two-fingered Christopher Columbus method (i.e. Look for it and then land on it).
Bear in mind that Columbus didn't land anywhere near where he thought he was. So, sort of a very questionable analog.

"Hunt and peck", is the more traditional description of this "method".....

I think Columbus said it best himself, "Grtr O sn um Omfos"!

indiangamer said:

i do WASD fastest

i dont know how i learned typing but maybe by playing games.

ikesmasher said:

grew up in a very "techy" environment, we were really forced to use computers for typing papers and stuff.. chat in halo, etc, etc..

I just gradually learned. I mean, now, ive been typing so much that i can type much, much, faster than anyone i know.

Guest said:

Oh, children...

I learned to type on an IBM Selectric typewriter in typing class in high school. In those days the only computers were on college campuses, and the only access was with punch cards.

When I was in college, the IBM 360 that most students were allowed to "use" (to submit our box of punch cards) was behind glass. There were three lights connected to a switch that the techs behind the glass used -- green meant the 360 was "up", red was "down", and yellow -- well, I still don't know what Heisenberg state that one referred to.

Now I probably have a dozen computers around here that are all faster than that 360 was.

I really don't miss the old days.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

I learned in a junior high computer typing class. However, most of my practice and where I really became proficient at typing was in chatrooms as well as computer games. If you dont have a mic then you have to learn to type out messages in a split second in the middle of a game.

yorro said:

Counter Strike

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

In 1991 I was in 7th grade and we had a typing class, I didn't learn much...

Same here (13 y.o.). Typing class for budding programmers (male) and budding secretaries/EDP punchers (female). The 5:1 female/male ratio probably put paid to any typing skills advancement- and contributed to numerous ejections from class...strangely enough, this coincided with me adopting (what should be henceforth known as) the Benny Method...

I started back in school when i was 16 using just one very slow finger. Over time i started getting faster using my one finger until i could manage two fingers.

killeriii said:

Funny thing,

I've used computers every day for a very long time.

I've never learned to type fast.

When I'm on a roll, i don't look at the keyboard much. (i can hit the backspace button real well)

Most of the time i do the search and peck method.

Maybe one day...

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Poke and hope...

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Back in the 80s, my father tried to convince me to learn typing on a 'typewriter' but luckily I always found an excuse not to do so . So I learned to type on an XT machine with two 5 1/4" FDDs.

daweimon said:

Mavis Beacon. Had hours of fun with that starting from around the year 2000 I guess.

Ssendi said:

From the typewriter, to the key board!!! Installed Mavis Becon for my siblings!!!! But on my side maybe it was Poke and hope... ohhhh

Arston said:

I'm using Colemak. That's also where my nickname comes from. Google it and you'll see what I mean.

IvanAwfulitch IvanAwfulitch said:

I guess Techspot has no sense of humor if they'll delete a joke post filled with nonsense in a "learning to type" open forum. I guess "open forum" isn't as open as it would suggest.

I learned to type through playing piano. You just develop a rhythm once you know where the keys are, and you can achieve keystrokes that are as fast, if not faster, than the old "asdf jkl;" finger placement.

nismo91 said:

two words: MSN Messenger

Sarcasm Sarcasm said:

Mario teaches typing.

hitech0101 said:

I learned just by typing random stuff no real learning methodology but chatting during online gaming that's where i gained the speed now kind of the fastest typer around my friends.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Grade 9 keyboarding class on an old electric typewriter with a reallt hard to press spacebar. Two years later they replaced the typrwritters with re-purposed 286's and they moved the rest of the school to 486/Pentiums.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Learned to type doing homework assignments and using some typing programs when I was a little kid. My parents thought that, back in the 90s, computers were going to be where it's at moving forward, so they loaded me and my siblings up on computer stuff... Good call, no?

Guest said:

I got into computers via early 90s PC gaming so there was lots of config.sys/autoexec.bat modification. When you repeatedly type stuff like "set blaster=P220 I5 D1" and "files=30 buffers=40" repeatedly, typing becomes second nature to you very quickly.

Guest said:

In high school, 10th grade (1973), the machines . . . IBM Selectrics. My dad worked for IBM and I still have the Selectric he got for me before I left for college.

Renrew Renrew said:

I was educated in the Eagle method and still follow it to this day----that's where you hunt your key, swoop down and peck at it--works for me.

Jibberish18 said:

When I was a kid my Dad bought the family a Macintosh. I learned to type with 4 fingers when using the old Mac. Basically the "pointer" and "middle" fingers on each hand. That went on until the first year of high school. Then I took basic computer class. Old School. We were still running DOS. The teacher taught the entire class to type "properly" with all 10 fingers and I picked up on it very quickly. Today I'm one of the fastest and most accurate typist I know. I won't set any speed records worldwide but I do well enough. Funny thing is, today my dad types with his 4 fingers the way I used to.

carlwh123 said:

I was lucky, I got my subject selection form in late when I was in year 9 (14 years old back in 2001). I missed out on my choices and got stuck in a computer class, the first thing we learned was touch typing. The teacher was extremely strict and taught us well. I then spent the next 5 or 6 years on MSN messenger typing correctly (heaps of practice). This forum got me interested in testing my speed so I just googled a speed-test site and had a go - 89WPM and I wasn't even warmed up.

Touch typing is great, not having to look down, then back up and refocus your eyes saves on headaches I think. It only took 2 weeks to learn, I recommend it to everyone who asks.

Guest said:

with MS-DOS

treetops treetops said:

We had a computer class in middle school, I believe it was 4th grade, it was required. Im 29 so yeah that was like in 1993. We learned to type with a program\game, I think it had a little dude running and a word would come up and you typed it as fast as you could which would make him jump the word or something. I loved typing with the eraser on my pencil but my computer teacher frowned upon it . We learned the foundation of computers, played the oregon trail, did some dos stuff it was fun. Really though most of my typing skills come from online gaming.

just did a words per minute test im at 45 meh

Guest said:

I took a high school typing class in 1971.

There were 60 girls in the class and 2 boys.

Lurker101 said:

Having to type in my own games on a Commodore 64 when I was a kid.

truroxy said:

i learned through lots of aim fights. considering I'm only a teen now, i got really into computers at 4, simply because they were in my blood. I didn't do much typing until about 10, and over the years I've gotten faster. I don't have super great accuracy, but I wanted to be like my older siblings who I thought could type an essay in a minute haha.

lots and lots of practice. and lots and lots of trial and error. I still can't get a touchscreen right, but I'll get there someday. I need the physical keys to know where my fingers are, and all my touchscreens have different keyboards. gah

matrix86 matrix86 said:

I learned in a typing class in middle school. The first 2 or 3 days was actually teaching us about the components of a computer and their functions. After that, it was all about technique. Half way through the semester, once we had learned our way around the keyboard, we went to touch typing. We had this dividers that went over our hands so we couldn't see.

I don't do proper anymore, though. I have my own style that's easier for me.

---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Booting into MS-DOS instead of 95 for the (typing) fun of it.

penn919 said:

I learned how to type in my Business Applications class during my freshman year in high school. I had typing classes in middle school, but they were utterly useless as with all the classes because the school was a joke.

tonylukac said:

I took a 9 month typing class in high school and I still can't type numbers too well (they use the 10 key structure anyway) and symbols were all different. We actually had 1 month on manual typewriters. This was in '75 when computers were not popular yet, but the next year I learned computer programming on an hp2000 timeshared mini in basic and officially we programmed it on pencil drawn cards--not even a keypunch--, but used the terminal occasionally. Typing class came in handy the second year of college when they installed wylbur with dumb terminals and moved everyone off their keypunches and of course in my computer career. Ironically, my brother just bought an hp-2000-412nr laptop. Deja vu.

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